Peter Yakovlevich Chaadayev: Philosophical Letters and Apology of a Madman (review)
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494 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY in the Haller Zeitung; it will probably not appear at all--it has, among other short, comings, the fault to be too long." In a letter to Schtitz, Niethammer writes from Bamberg on 23 March 1807: "I repeat my urgent demand ... to send the review of Salat's book submitted by Prof. Hegel as soon as possible to Jena to hand it in to Hofrat Voigt .... " The volume contains almost 1,000 valuable notes which explain the philosophical and historical background of the newly edited material. HENRY WALTERBRANN Takoma Park, Maryland Peter Yakovlevich Chaadayev: Philosophical Letters and Apology of a Madman. Trans. with Intro. by Mary-Barbara Zeldin. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969. Pp. 203. $7.50) Mary-Barbara Zeldin's translation into English of the Philosophical Letters and the Apology of a Madman, by the enigmatic Russian intellectual leader of the early nineteenth century, Peter Yakovlevich Chaadayev makes available in English for the first time the thought of this figure whose small corpus of writings circulated mostly in manuscript during his own lifetime and waited over a hundred years after his death for their complete translation in their original French. Historically Chaadayev is important as a mediator between Westernizers and Slavophiles in this initial period of the nineteenth-century Russian intellectual awakening. Chaadayev himself remained aloof from either of these parties, was appealed to by both of them and became himself a kind of martyr to intellectual freedom. His own view of Russian-Western relationships incorporates this problem most remarkably into a theological vision of the "education of the human race." Philosophically Chaadayev stands as a unique and somewhat eccentric synthesizer of German idealism with the Christian concept of salvation history. Perhaps the most remarkable insight to be gained by reading these long-buried essays is the ease with which an Eastern Orthodox Christian versed in Patristic hellenism could fuse the ideas of a paedagogy of the human race in Lessing, Herder and Schiller and read this as an expression of an Irenaean doctrine of the progressive development of a mankind through the mediation of the primordial Logos; an Alexandrian idea of the paedagogy of Christ in history and a Eusebian doctrine of Christian universal empire. In so doing this Russian thinker also reveals to what an extent the German idealist movement itself was grounded on much older syntheses of Christian thought. In the process, however, Chaadayev also shows that nineteenth-century men could only appropriate this heritage anew by taking the great credal themes of revelation, Christi, the church and the Kingdom of God and reissuing them in a secularized, humanistic dress, as a philosophy of history. Chaadayev's basic thesis is that knowledge is a divinely-given deposit of certain fundamental primordial ideas, which man would not have arrived at through his own unaided powers, but rather possesses as an imprint upon the mind of the first man implanted by the Creator. Chaadayev weds the western philosophical concept of a fundamental a priori with a doctrine of primordial revelation, revealing the foundation of man himself in the divine Logos. This primordial deposit of ideas existed in BOOK REVIEWS 495 the first man only as a rudimentary 'image' of God. It is only through historical development that man grows to full stature in these truths whereby he attains to the completed 'likeness' of God. These truths, together with their historical development, are passed down by a historical succession, which is not an ecclesiastical succession, but a succession of the human family. These truths are periodically renewed by the advent of certain extraordinary individuals who exemplify them to a high degree, and by certain elect nations who are divinely designated as their culture-bearers. The Jews of the Old Testament were that culture-bearer in antiquity, and, since the time of Jesus Christ, it is Christendom which stands for and bears the development of this primordial truth as it has been renewed and set forth in archetypal perfection by Christ. Chaadayev sharply down grades the role of the Greeks in this development, but does so in a manner remarkably similar to the ancient Christian apologists who stole Greek fire in order to bathe the...


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